A Different Kind of Alone
* * *
It had been three weeks since Max’s return, Jenny’s arrival, and Tess’ disappearance. Max had been surprised at Jenny’s transition. At first he was sure things would be hard, especially with the breakfast incident when she first arrived. Even though Isabel insisted she was right, he was sure that something had been off with Jenny that morning. But slowly Jenny had transformed and now she seemed like any average girl. Max was sure that this had something to do with Maria. The two had become close friends, in fact they all had. The former group of six, now seven, was even closer than it ever had been before.
Max laughed at the memory. At first a little too close. He remembered the first week after his return. Isabel and Liz wouldn’t let him out of their sight. He felt like he was being babysat twenty four/seven. Max was glad when he was finally able to convince the two that he was safe. Actually, he owed that one to Jenny. She helped convince them that her two close friends back at the complex would be sure to cover up any traces of Max. Michael had shot Jenny a strange look and Max thought something was up, but she assured him that everything was fine.
The seven of them were currently in Michael’s apartment, watching Game six of the Stanley Cup Finals. Max was glad that things had finally returned to normal and that they were doing normal things again. He had had enough excitement in the past six months and he hoped the rest of his years would be far more boring. Max laughed good naturedly at Jenny and Michael as the two screamed at the television set. As if the hockey players could hear them.
Isabel looked like she had had enough. “It’s just a hockey game you know!” she yelled over them.
“Just a hockey game?”
“Excuse me? This is not just a hockey game.”
“Yeah yeah yeah.” Isabel stood up. “You two were meant for each other. I hope they give you matching straight jackets at the funny farm. Come on, Alex. Let’s go somewhere quieter.” Alex jumped to his feet and followed Isabel to the door.
“Ooo...looks like someone will be wearing turtlenecks for the next few days.” Maria teased.
Alex, of course, turned bright red. But the others were surprised to see Isabel turn red as well before practically dragging Alex out the door.
“Aw, they’re so cute together. It’s nice to see them happy.” Liz said. She was wrapped up tightly in Max’s embrace, despite the fact that it was mid-June.
“Well, I can see why they wanted to leave. Those two are maniacs.” Maria said while cocking her head towards Jenny and Michael who were doing a victory dance.
“It’s hard to believe that when she first came here that she was shy and wanted to leave.” Liz replied.
“Oh I can believe it. Back at the complex she was like that.” Liz raised her eyebrows at Max’s comment. “Well, she wasn’t jumping up and down and screaming at a t.v., but she was always lively and energetic. She reminded me of you, Maria-hyper active.”
Maria flashed Max a smile. “Thanks for the compliment.” She turned and laughed as she saw Michael jumping up and down and screaming the words, ‘Over time! Unbelievable!’ What Maria found unbelievable was that her boyfriend was jumping up and down and acting like a normal teenage boy. He wasn’t his usual brooding self. But then again, none of them had been really the same after Max had returned. They were all so much more light hearted, especially the alien trio. Jenny, unlike them, had been able to remember bits and pieces of their past. Isabel, the former ice queen, had actually broken down in tears as Jenny described her mom and dad. Maria stopped her train of thought as she realized what she had just called Michael-boyfriend. She had never thought that she would ever call Michael that. Ever since Michael had made it perfectly clear he had to be a stone wall, Maria had thought that any relationship they had would be hard and strained. But since Max’s kidnapping, she found that she and Michael were closer than ever. And continued to grow closer everyday. Michael didn’t even seem to be afraid of commitment. Maria hated to admit it, but she was actually glad that Max had been kidnapped. So much good had come from the incident.
“Bathroom break!” Jenny yelled before jumping over the side of the couch and running for the bathroom.
“What? Oh no you don’t!” Michael yelled before following suit. He grabbed her and tackled her to the ground at the bathroom’s entrance. “You’re just going in there because you know that I have to go, so you’re just trying to be a pain in the neck.”
“So?” Jenny grinned. The two continued to wrestle as Max, Liz, and Maria looked on and laughed.
Maria stared at the two fighting. At first she had been jealous of the relationship the two had. Even afraid that Jenny would take Michael away from her. Michael had even seemed attracted to her at first, and with the whole alien thing, Maria had thought that the two would go out for sure, leaving her heart broken. But Maria soon realized that the two’s relationship had much more of a brother-sister kinship than anything else. Jenny seemed happy in the sister role and so did Michael. Maria was glad that Michael finally had a ‘family’ of his own.
As Maria stared at Michael and Jenny battling it out on the apartment floor, she had a revelation. “Oh my god. Jenny is Tess.”
Liz snapped her head up at the mention of the ‘T’ word. “What?”
Maria rolled her eyes. “Well, not literally. But don’t you see-she fits right in where Tess didn’t. I mean, before Tess came, the six of us were basically paired off. So when she came, she messed everything up. She wanted to be with Max. Which in turn left Liz all alone. And then she got into Isabel’s head, so Isabel thought that she was meant to be with Michael for some odd reason. Leaving Alex and me alone.
“But with Jenny, everything works out perfectly. We’re still paired off with our significant others, but she adds something to the alien trio. Now, it’s like the four of them together. Two guys and two girls. Isabel and Max are brother and sister. And Michael and Jenny are really good friends, so much in fact they’re like siblings. And since they’re like siblings, there’s no outside threat. So of course all the girls get along with each other. Like I said before-perfect.” Maria finished her speech with a flourish of her hand.
Liz shook her head, laughing. “You are unbelievable. I swear, the things that go through your head.”
“I know, but it’s true!” Maria protested.
Max smiled. “You’re right. Everything is perfect. For the first time in months we aren’t constantly looking over our shoulders or worrying about our alien selves. It’s nice not to be afraid anymore. Even the sheriff has backed off. I think the kidnapping scared him or something.”
“Snack time!” Michael yelled. He ran over to the kitchen with Jenny following him.
“Excuse me? What do you think you’re doing? Those our my chips.”
“Excuse me? Who bought them?” Michael said, holding the chips above her head.
Jenny used her powers to lift some chips out of the open bag and into her hand. “Well, that’s not my fault. I can’t even get a job without any identification.”
“Well, why don’t you use some of your little powers to make some green paper?”
“I’m not going to use my powers to steal from the government.” Michael rolled his eyes.
“Maria thinks that you’re Tess, Jenny. So why don’t you just assume her identity?” Max laughed.
“Ha ha. You’re so funny, Maxwell. We’re trying to think up a real solution.” Jenny said.
Suddenly Liz’s eyes lit up. She started mumbling to herself as she tried to organize the plan in her head. “Oh my god. I think that it could actually work.”
“What? Jenny assume Tess’ identity?” Michael asked while shoving another chip in his mouth.
“Yes! Don’t you see! Tess has been missing for quite some time. But the school system probably just thinks that she moved away or something because her father was part of the government.”
“But what does the school have to do with anything?” Maria asked. “I mean, wouldn’t the government have records of her?”
“No. Nasedo would never do that; he would never draw more attention to himself by adopting a child. Therefore, he never officially ‘adopted’ or even pretended to have a child. Tess Harding was created merely for Roswell High. She told you guys herself. She’s been running from the government her entire life. But if you’ve been running your entire life, when do you have time to go to school?”
Max smiled when he realized that Liz was right. “Exactly. I never thought of that before.”
Liz returned the smile. “So the only people who know who Tess is, is the school system. And I’m sure they never paid much attention. So all we have to do is change a few things here and there and no one will know the difference. Jenny can become Tess Harding!”
“You’re forgetting one thing, Liz. I don’t want to be Tess Harding! And what if Tess shows up again, what will we do with two Tesses? Besides what about Kyle-you said he went out with her. Don’t you think he might notice that I’m not her?”
“You’re just worried you might have to dye your hair blonde.” Michael joked while messing up Jenny’s hair do.
“Shut up, we’re trying to be serious here.”
“Anyway,” Liz continued, “We don’t change you to match Tess. We change Tess to match you. We simply take your records and switch them with Tess’.” Jenny opened her mouth to say something, but Liz stopped her. “I know you don’t have records. We’ll just fake them ourselves. Take a few x-rays and fingerprints and then Alex can break into the school’s system and superimpose them. I’m sure if he can break into Topolsky’s laptop, he’ll have no problem with the district’s security system. Then all Alex has to do is change the name from Tess Harding to Jenny.... Jenny whatever. That’s not the point. The point is-that you now have a new identity.” Liz yawned as if her plan was so easy it had bored her.
Maria high-fived Liz. “Hey, your 4.0 had to become useful sooner or later!”
“You know what-I think it actually might work. I knew my girlfriend was a genius.” Max gave Liz a kiss. And then another one.
“Okay, enough already. Break it up you two. So now we have a plan. That was easy enough. Now all you have to do is think up a last name and ask Alex to help us and we’re done.”
“Hmm... How about Modano?”
“Oh jeez. Is hockey all you think about?” Michael rolled his eyes.
“No. It’s not my fault that-oh my god! The game!” Jenny grabbed the bag of chips out of Michael’s hand and ran back to the living room with Michael on her tail.
The next morning the group all had breakfast at the Crashdown in order to discuss their plans and let Alex and Isabel in on it.
Alex was the last to arrive so he pulled up a chair against the booth that the four aliens were sitting at. As soon as they saw Alex arrive, Maria and Liz stopped wiping down counters and came over. Maria leaned against another chair while Liz put the ‘Closed’ sign in the Crashdown window.
“Hey everyone,” Alex greeted. “So how was the game last night, Jenny?”
Jenny glared and Michael spoke up. “Still a touchy subject,” he said. “You should have seen her face when the Devils got the winning goal in double overtime. I’ve never seen a grown woman cry over a hockey game.”
“Hey, buddy, if you value those two legs of yours, I suggest you stop talking.”
“Ooo, I’m so scared.”
“Alright you guys. The reason that we’re all here is because last night Liz thought up a great way for Jenny to get an identity. But we need Alex’s help.” Maria went on to tell Liz’s plan.
Alex, who had been listening intently, began to smile. “I think it actually might work. I’m sure I can pull it off. But where are we going to get the x-rays? I don’t think any of you are dentists or doctors.”
“You said that the government would have your records, right Jenny?” Liz asked.
Jenny nodded. “Yeah, but I don’t think we can get those.”
“Oh well. I don’t think it’s too important anyway. So how soon do you think you can do it? Because I think that Jenny wants to get a job to help Michael with the rent.”
“Yeah, it’s about time. She’s eating me out of house and home.” Michael said while Jenny hit him.
“I can go into the system tonight and check things out. But I think I’ll probably end up doing it next weekend.”
“Well, if everything’s settled, it’s back to work. C’mon Liz, it’s time to feed the masses.” Maria called as she walked over to unlock the front door.
(Two Weeks Later)
“Order’s up.” Michael said as he hit the bell resting on the counter separating the kitchen from the restaurant. “Table four.”
Liz was showing Jenny the ropes around the Crashdown, now that she was working there thanks to Alex’s hacking skills. “Okay, now just follow me.” Liz maneuvered her way through the restaurant. She set the plates down on the table and smiled at the customers. “Enjoy your meals.” She turned to Jenny. “See? That was easy enough.”
“Yeah. So when can I start?”
“I don’t know. I think you should watch me a little bit longer. You may not have the hang of it yet.”
“Liz!” Jenny whined. “I’ve been watching you all morning and afternoon!”
Liz smiled. “I’m just kidding. You can start right now. The dinner rush is about to begin.”
“Alright!” Jenny smiled and then set off to wait on the tables in her section.
Five hours later she wasn’t smiling. She saw that the restaurant was fairly empty and that all the customers that were there had already been waited on so she went over to sit down with the rest of the gang.
“My feet are killing me. I don’t know how you guys do it.”
“Don’t worry. You’ll get used to it.” Liz said.
“I doubt it.” Jenny reached down and rubbed her feet while inconspicuously using her powers to stop her feet from aching.
“Looks like you’ve got some more customers in your section, Liz.” Isabel commented.
Liz stood to get up. “Wait, I’ll do it, Liz.”
“Sure, no problem.” Jenny walked over to the group of football jocks, by the look of their jackets. “Hi. Welcome to the Crashdown. What can I get for you guys?”
“Cokes and Will Smith burgers with side orders of Saturn Rings all around,” Kyle said. Jenny turned to place their orders but Kyle grabbed her by her wrist.
“Is there something else you want?” she asked.
“You.” Jenny blushed and the group of football players laughed. Kyle looked embarrassed, “No, that’s not what I mean. I mean, um, are you new here?”
“Yeah. I just, um, moved here. I’m going to go place your order now.” Jenny said before quickly walking away.
“Real smooth, Valenti.” She heard one of the football players tease. ‘Valenti? The sheriff’s son?’ she thought.
She wrote down their orders and gave it to Michael. “What were they laughing at?” he asked.
Jenny blushed. “Nothing.”
“Stay away from them.”
“Jeez, who are you? My mother?” She rolled her eyes.
“No, but they’re dangerous. So stay away from them.”
“Yeah, I bet they’re real dangerous. You know, poking people’s eyes out with their footballs and all.” She heard Michael sigh and she went to go get the group some cokes.
She set down the cokes on the table and turned to leave again, but Kyle stopped her. “So you’re new here, right?”
She nodded. “Yeah. Didn’t you already ask me that?”
“Oh yeah.” Kyle grabbed a coke and became increasingly interested in the dessert menu sitting on the table. The rest of the group looked at him like he was crazy and simultaneously laughed. Jenny rolled her eyes and returned back to the group, sitting on the other side of the restaurant.
Isabel motioned for Maria to come and join them, but she was busy talking to Michael. “So Jenny, are you busy this weekend?” Jenny shook her head and Isabel smiled. “Good, because we’re having a girls night out on Saturday. Maria and Liz have been spending way too much time with Michael and Max. They need to get out, live a little. So I figured the four of us could go out and then come back to my house later on to spend the night.” Isabel looked over at Max and Liz, who were wrapped up in each other’s arms. “That is, if they can bear to be separated for more than ten minutes at a time.”
“That sounds great, Isabel.”
“Just come on over to my house around five.” She grabbed Alex’s hand. “See you guys later.”
Kyle felt like sinking into the ground. Not only had he made a fool out of himself in front of his friends, more importantly he had made a fool out of himself in front of the new girl. Kyle hardly ever lost his cool in front of girls. In fact, he lost his bravado only around Liz. Every other girl he had ever dated had only seen Kyle-star-quarterback or Kyle-captain-of-the-wrestling-team. The list went on and on. He had opened himself up to Liz and had been shot down, so he was more wary of that now. He only went out with girls who wanted him as a trophy boyfriend-to show off and go to parties with, but that was the extent.
But for some reason, this new girl caught his eye. He wondered why. She was pretty, but not that pretty. He had dated girls far more gorgeous.
But he couldn’t get her out of his head. And he figured since he had already made an ass out of himself that he might as well ask her out. If he was shot down, no big deal.
“Hey, Valenti. You still there?” Scott asked, interrupting Kyle’s thoughts.
“The rest of us are heading on over to Kerry’s. Her parents are out of town, so she’s throwing a party. You game?”
Normally Kyle would have said yes, but then glanced over at the waitress talking to Michael and decided against it. “No, you guys go on without me.” The rest of the table stood up to leave, throwing a few dollars on the table and leaving Kyle to pay for them.
Kyle saw the waitress, Jenny, starting to walk towards him and mentally prepared himself to ask her out. He was surprised, however, when he saw her stop and talk to Max Evans and Liz. “Great, just great,” he mumbled under his breath. Not that he had anything really against Evans besides Liz, but something about him just bothered him. ‘Oh well,’ he thought and resigned himself to the fact that she probably wouldn’t want to go out with him. He doubted that she would even want to talk to him. Max, Isabel, Michael, Maria, Liz, and Alex were a pretty tight group and hardly let anyone in. ‘Stupid secrets.’ But then again, they had let the other new girl, Tess into their group. Speaking of which, he hadn’t seen Tess in weeks. Not that she had been that great of a girl to hang out with. Sure, she was great to flirt around with, but after their first ‘date’, he knew nothing was going to happen between the two of them.
Lost in his thoughts, he suddenly realized that Jenny was clearing the table. He decided to throw caution into the wind. “I’m Kyle.”
She smirked, reminding him of that Guerin guy’s infuriating half smile/smirk, but somehow hers didn’t bother him. “I’m Jenny,” she said while pointing to her nametag.
“Nice to meet you, Jenny.”
“Likewise.” She grabbed the last cup and Kyle realized he was losing her.
“Would you like to sit down?” he asked.
She looked around the empty restaurant and then smiled. “I don’t see why not. That is, if you don’t mind the smell of fried food permeating off my skin.” The two laughed and continued on to converse about the Crashdown’s menu, slowly asking each other about their pasts. Kyle smiled at the ease that she and he were talking.
Across the room Max, Liz, and now Maria sat in a booth throwing French fries back and forth. Liz held up her hand to stop the barrage of fries and looked around the room in disgust. “Ugh. I hate closing on Friday nights. I swear, I think its one of the worst nights to be working.”
“You’re just saying that because you’d much rather be making out with Max.” Maria teased.
“True enough. I think a separation will be good for us though. Isabel’s right-we need to have a girls night.”
“I guess so,” Maria mused. “I think we need to play matchmaker on Jenny. She’s the only one who doesn’t have a boyfriend.”
“Where is Jenny? I don’t want her to clean up on her own on her first night.”
“Ooo, looks like I spoke too soon. Jenny’s currently flirting with none other than Kyle Valenti.” Max and Liz turned to look at Jenny and Kyle talking.
“Looks like we have an audience.” Kyle noted.
Jenny turned around to see Max, Liz, and Maria staring at them. “Apparently. I guess I should get back to work.”
“Yeah and I should pay for this.” Kyle followed Jenny over to the cash register. “So are you busy Saturday night?”
“Yeah...” Kyle’s face fell and Jenny quickly said, “But I’m free Sunday.”
Kyle smiled. “Do you want to do something?”
“Like a date?”
“Well, it doesn’t...I mean...”
“I’d love to. Do you want to meet someplace?”
“No, just give me your phone number and I’ll call you sometime between now and then and we’ll figure everything out.” Jenny gave Kyle his change and then scribbled Michael’s number onto a piece of paper and handed it to him. “See you later.”
Jenny watched Kyle get into his car and drive away before she let out a shriek of joy. She practically bounded on over to the booth Maria, Max, and Liz were sitting at.
“What’s with the goofy grin and all the screaming?” Max asked.
“I’ve got a date on Sunday!” Jenny beamed.
Max and Liz exchanged looks. Liz slowly said, “Are you sure you want to go out with Kyle, Jenny? He’s a nice guy and all, but-”
Jenny raised her eyebrows. “But what?”
“Well, his father is the sheriff.”
“So? What does that have to do with anything? It’s not like I’m going to tell him I’m an alien.”
“That’s right. You aren’t going to tell him you’re an alien.” Michael said from behind her. “And that’s because you aren’t going to have the chance to tell him because you aren’t going out with him.”
“Excuse me? Who do you think you are? You can’t tell me what I can and cannot do.”
“I told you before, he’s dangerous. Stay away from him. Next time he comes around, tell him that you’re busy Sunday.”
“What? I’m not going to tell him that.” Jenny said, outraged.
“Yes, you are.” Michael said slowly, annunciating each word.
Jenny felt the tears burning behind her eyes. “No, she’s not,” said a steady voice. Jenny turned to see Maria glaring at Michael, her eyes blazing. The tension in the room suddenly became very evident as Maria and Michael stared each other down.
“Yes she is.”
“Or what? Are you going to throw her out of the apartment?” Maria asked him, as if daring him to reply in the affirmative.
Michael realized what she was trying to do and gave a small smirk. He shrugged and said, “Maybe. But we’ll never know because she’s not going to go out with Kyle.”
Maria’s eyes sparkled with rage. “You’re wrong there, buddy. We’ll never know because she’s not going to give you the chance.” She motioned for Jenny to get up and out of the booth. Jenny stood up quickly and Maria followed suit. Maria took a step closer so that she was only inches away from Michael’s chest. While normally now one of their heated arguments would have usually turned into a make out fest, Maria had no intention of kissing Michael. Instead she said, “She’s not going to give you the chance because she is going to go out with Kyle on Sunday. And until you realize that the decision on whether to go out with Kyle is Jenny’s decision and Jenny’s alone, Jenny is going to be staying at my house.” Maria grabbed her purse and Jenny’s arm, leading her out of the Crashdown.
Maria walked over to her to her car, still fuming. “Can you believe the nerve of them? Telling you who you can and cannot go out with. Unbelievable.” She opened the door to the car. “You coming?”
Jenny walked over hurriedly to the car and got in. “I can’t believe that you just did that.”
Maria gave a lopsided grin. “Neither can I. I just got so angry and then as usual-I acted before I thought anything through. Oh well. Don’t worry about closing, Liz and Michael can handle it. Let’s head on over to Michael’s and grab your stuff.”
Maria watched Jenny pack her things into a grocery bag. She smiled when she saw Jenny stuff a few shirts into the bag. They were the same shirts that she, Isabel, Liz, and Jenny had bought when they had gone shopping when Jenny had first arrived. Maria, Liz, and Isabel had watched in half amusement/horror as Jenny had picked out her own clothes. Jenny had grabbed the first things that she saw, not caring about what they looked like or their size-she had been so happy to finally choose her own things. Isabel had finally convinced her to let her do the shopping. Isabel had taken charge, deftly weaving in and out of various departments in the store until she had found a small wardrobe for Jenny fit to make most girls jealous. Maria and Liz had laughed when they had seen Jenny’s reaction to Isabel’s choices. Jenny had refused to try on any of the clothes, declaring her disgust for anything ‘that ugly.’ Isabel looked like she had been slapped in the face, but the two girls had finally compromised, choosing a wardrobe for Jenny together.
“Do you have everything?” Maria asked. Jenny nodded and started to leave but stopped. She ran over to Michael’s CD collection and grabbed a few of his Metallica CDs. Maria raised her eyebrows in question.
Jenny laughed. “He’ll realize that I have them so he’ll come over to your house under the pretense of getting them.”
“Yeah, you think he’d actually admit to going over to your house to apologize to me?” Jenny and Maria both smiled before heading over to her house.
Back at the Crashdown, Max was helping Liz and Michael clean up. He finished stacking up the chairs and walked over to the counter Liz was cleaning. “Maybe we were wrong. Maybe we should let Jenny go out with Kyle. I mean, what harm could it do?”
“Maxwell, maybe those guys hit you a little too hard on your head. Have you forgotten that those friends of Kyle beat you up?”
Max sighed knowing Michael was too stubborn to change his grounds. “They only did that because Kyle was upset over me and Liz.”
“Actually, no. Kyle said he didn’t have anything to do with that.” Liz said in a small voice.
“Well, hand the boy a Nobel Prize, then.” Michael said in disgust. “Do you really think he would tell you that he had his friends beat up Max?”
“But I know Kyle. He would never do something like that.” Liz stopped protesting when she realized she wouldn’t convince Michael that night. “Besides, I think we should have a little faith in Jenny. She would never put herself or any of you guys at risk by telling Kyle. And another point, it’s just a date. A first date at any rate. I doubt they’re going to bare their souls to each other.”
“First dates usually lead to more dates. And more chances for Jenny to slip up. Maxwell, you said it yourself. She’s never been out of the complex before. She’s naive and innocent. She doesn’t know about guys our age.”
Max broke out in a large grin as a revelation dawned on him. “That’s why you’re so upset about Jenny going out with Kyle. It has nothing to do with Kyle being the sheriff’s son.”
“Of course it does.”
“No, it doesn’t. It could have been anyone asking her out, and you wouldn’t want her going out with them.” Max walked over to where Michael was standing and clapped him on the back. “Face it man, you’ve turned into an overprotective brother.”
Michael opened his mouth to protest while Liz giggled. Michael glared at Max and threw his apron into the back. “You’re crazy. Jenny’s not going out with Kyle and that’s final.” He began to walk outside but paused in the doorframe. “And I’m not an overprotective brother.”
Liz laughed once Michael left. “It’s actually kind of cute to see Michael acting like a brother.”
“Oh really?” Max raised his eyebrows. “You know what I think is cute?”
“And what is that?” Liz asked, while edging closer to Max.
“You.” Liz managed to make a small smile before Max kissed her.